Belize is such a beautiful country. The terrain is vastly different from the hills of Alabama. There are naturally growing palm trees everywhere you look. The locals are very kind, and they will answer any questions you have about their country. They all speak pretty good English, so there wasn't really a language barrier. Most live on the mainland in little houses along the way. When driving by, you can see them selling their freshly grown produce or little bracelets and things. Everyone seems to care for the environment around them and try to be conservative with species. They are very knowledgeable about the different species of animals, plants, coral, insects, etc. This is very helpful because one of our grades is based on something called the Biodiversity Olympics, which is a competition between our research groups to see who can find and identify the most species.

Every day, we have a morning snorkel and an afternoon snorkel. During these snorkels, we are observing the different reef systems that reach across the coast of Belize. I've seen several nurse sharks, stingrays, eagle rays, fish species, and even a Loggerhead Sea Turtle. My research team, which consists of my new friends Fuller, Ryan, and Ben, has to snorkel the lagoon and dock at the island we are living on. For our research project, we have to swim the lagoon, the dock, and the reef to observe the similarities and differences between the 3 environments. We swam the lagoon at Lime Caye, swam the dock at South Water Caye, and observed the reef at places like Carrie Bow Caye, Glover's Caye, South Water Caye, and many smaller reef systems.

While on Lime Caye, we did not have cell service, air conditioning, hot water, or even a mirror. It really helped us get to know each other. There are a total of 24 people on this trip. There's Dr. Steinberg, our professor, Alex and Kaitlyn, our TA's, then Ellie B, Liam, Fuller, Ryan, Lilly, Ben, Freya, Ellie W, Olivia, Logan, Ivy, Justice, Jimmy, Ty, Lauren, Elizabeth, Sara, Luke, Aiden, and myself. I got to know everyone pretty well in those first days with no cell service. Most of the time, you can hear and see the waves, smell the food that's being cooked, feel the sand between your toes, and you feel like nothing could be better than this, or at least that's my experience so far. I would give anything to live everyday like this. I'm not ready to go back home. I won't be able to wake up to the sound of waves crashing every day. I am ready to show my family the different shells I have collected and the jewelry I bought from the pop up gift shops.